5 Essential Hand Tools For Every Plumber

If you’re just getting started in the plumbing industry, here’s a look at the key tools you’ll be counting on the most

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If you’re still in the infancy of your plumbing career, you’ll soon realize that there are a few hand tools that can be found in any plumber’s truck.

Here’s a look at five essential ones you’ll want to invest in no matter where you plan to focus — commercial or residential projects, new construction or service work. The versatility of each tool spans various plumbing specialties and they cover almost all applications you might run into. Each comes in various sizes to allow for customization based on job site requirements.  

The tools include: 

  • Straight Pipe Wrench — The first and most recognizable tool is the quintessential heavy-duty straight pipe wrench. It is available in iron, steel or aluminum from 6 to 48 inches, with the most common sizes being from 10 to 18 inches, depending on the job. This wrench can be used on all types of pipe and will be one of your most used tools.
  • Basin Wrench — Designed for tight spaces and under-sink applications, the basin wrench is the perfect complement to the straight pipe wrench. Models with an adjustable length, pivoting T-handle and integrated light are ideal.
  • Tubing Cutters — Built to cut a variety of materials, including copper, aluminum, brass and steel, tubing cutters are necessary for removing or installing new plumbing. In addition to a standard-style tubing cutter, a close-quarters cutter is a good investment because it allows for cutting in restricted spaces.
  • Reamers/Deburring Tools — Widening or finishing a pipe is simplified with a reamer and deburring tool. Many models incorporate both functions into one tool, but they can be purchased separately if preferred.  
  • Pliers — A good pair of pliers is needed to grip pipe and fittings. A basic set of tongue-and-groove pliers in a few different sizes is a good place to start. Look for pliers that are ergonomically designed and have cushioned handles to enhance grip and reduce fatigue.

As you’re making your purchases, looking at tool brand websites and customer reviews can provide insight into tool quality, warranties and where tools are made. Customer reviews by industry professionals will help you have a better understanding of product quality and how a tool performs on the job site. Tools backed by warranties can also provide an extra piece of mind that you can expect the tool to perform as advertised and, if for some reason something breaks, the company will have your back in repairing or replacing the tool.  

Take your time in making these initial tool purchases to ensure you’re making a wise investment. While you’ll add other tools during your career, these five will always have a place in your truck.

About the Author

Sabrina Witkowski is a global marketing manager of professional tools at RIDGID, a manufacturer of more than 300 dependable and innovative tools, trusted by professional trades in over 100 countries. Learn more at RIDGID.com.  


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